10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World – A book review

Apr 10, 202020 comments

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Have you ever thought about what happens to a person after their death? Do they go to heaven or hell? Or you believe that the body function stops and that is the end of it? Explore Elif Shafak’s version of post death in 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World with me, won’t you?

#10Minutes38SecondsInThisStrangeWorld would be a great choice if you want to read about richly woven historical tale about the minorities in Istanbul. Explore Elif Shafak's version of post death with me, won't you? Click To Tweet

About 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Book Name: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Author: Elif Shafak

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Tequila Leila, Sabotage Sinan, Nostalgia Nalan, Jameelah, Zaynab122 and Hollywood Humeyra

Setting: Istanbul, Turkey

Plot Summary of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

The book begins with the death of the protagonist Leila and we walk through her life during the last few minutes of her consciousness. With her body disposed in a dumpster dismissively, her mind wanders through her recollections of her childhood, her family disowning her and finding her own set of friends and finally her murder. 

Along the journey we are taken on a ride to visit a patriarch family that has grown more and more orthodox while struggling with a child with Down syndrome and the pressure that had on a smart young girl with two mothers who would not speak against their devout father. 

We also see glimpses of the streets from the forbidden parts of the city, that we are encouraged to look away from where our protagonist meets her beloved friends who turn out to be ‘her family’. 

When Leila’s body is finally buried in a cemetery for the “companionless”, the friends take it upon themselves to help her rest in peace. Did they succeed in getting their friend the end she deserved form the rest of the story in 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. 

Book review of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

This is just more than a story of a dead sex worker and her friends. It is a tale of the minorities – the “wayward” women, the queers, the physically different of Istanbul and anyone who wouldn’t fit the norms of a “society”. It is also a tale of friendship and how family is about whom you choose to be with. 

I was not happy with the author’s The Forty rules of love and I was reluctant to pick this one. 

But I liked the author’s writing style – well, the part one. I loved the part one about the city and its rich history and culture. But the second part was slow and dragging and I actually had to skim. The distinction in the writing and narrative style felt too different between the two parts made was too glaring to ignore.

Things that worked for me

  • I liked the non linear narrative and that kept me on my toes. 
  • I loved knowing about Istanbul via its history and politics, and through the lives of these friends. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish there was a smooth transition between both the parts.
  • Even though I felt the friends set a bit of cliche but I liked their dynamic. 


If you are a fan of Elif Shafak or The Forty rules of love, you will love the book. For others, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World would be a great choice if you want to read about richly woven historical tale about the minorities in Istanbul. 

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Have you read this one? What other books have you read from the author? Have you ever read anything set in Istanbul? Let us talk. 

Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me


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  1. Bewitched Reader

    This seems like an interesting read.

    • Gayathri

      Yes it definitely was!

  2. vidya

    i think i might enjoy this one (oh my poor tbr)

    • Gayathri

      Oh yes, sounds like a book for you!

  3. Ashleigh

    Great review

    • Gayathri

      Thank you!

  4. Shelleen Toland

    Great review and sounds really different.

    • Gayathri

      Glad you appreciate!

  5. Kate @ Bitch Bookshelf

    I recently heard of this author, mentioned in another book I read. This sounds interesting.

    • Gayathri

      Her Forty rules of love is well known.

  6. Robin Loves Reading

    This seems quite interesting, but not sure I would be able to enjoy reading it.

    • Gayathri

      Yes, it is not for all.

  7. Laura Thomas

    I’d like to read this. And I enjoy visiting new places through books.

    • Gayathri

      I do too. You should check out my old Flyaway Friday series then.

  8. Kymber

    I like your review. I’m not sure if I’ll like this one or not, although, I think the premise is quite interesting.

    • Gayathri

      That is why I picked this one as well!

  9. Debjani

    Good review, Gayathri. 🙂 I have heard a lot about this book, and all of them had the same complaint – the second part isn’t as good as the first one. Glad to read a post form you after a long time.

    • Gayathri

      Yes I agree with them!

    • Gayathri

      It definitely was.



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